First serialized on Webtoon and now published in partnership with GLAAD, Always Human by Ari North is a sweet sci-fi romance about two young women who learn that imperfections contribute to beautifully uncommon personalities.
Sunati first admires Austen at the train station because the young woman is not using mods to change her appearance. Sunati assumes this is because Austen is "brave" enough to be herself. When Sunati finally gathers the courage to talk to Austen, she learns Austen's overactive immune system rejects mods. Still convinced of Austen's courage, Sunati talks her into dating. As their love blooms across cute dates, both mess up. "Incurably honest" Sunati trips over compliments that offend Austen, while quick-tempered Austen assumes Sunati likes an illusion of her: "I can't live up to the pedestal you've put me on." Together, they realize even the most magnetic relationships require hard work.
North nails new love: the nerves ("My heart is too loud. And my head is too empty") that transition to excitement, the amorous teasing and the gushy fawning ("When I see you, the universe comes into focus"). She illustrates how infuriating medical challenges can be and the ways well-meaning assistance can hurt. Using her bright manga art style, she creates characters who exude emotion, while her ethereal, accessible tech world should charm any reader. Further LGBTQIAP+ representation adds refreshing diversity to the couple's social circles. Above all, North's ebullient characters demonstrate that loving someone means more than accepting their differences--it means forgiving their mistakes. Always Human by Ari North is an endearingly feel-good sapphic romance set against a diverting futuristic backdrop. --Samantha Zaboski, freelance editor and reviewer